The opposite of a revolution

What is needed is not a revolution in the opposite direction, but the opposite of a revolution. ~ Joseph de Maistre

The revolutionary wants to seize power from those in authority.  The reactionary wants those in power to accept the responsibility of authority.  The revolutionary subverts the existing order by denying its legitimacy.  The reactionary makes existing rulers tremple by spreading the subversive thought that rule is legitimate.  It’s not that we deny our enemies, the radicals who rule modern nations, the mantle of authority; it is that they refuse to pick it up.  Instead, they claim to be creatures of the popular will, or else they claim to be a vanguard of the revolution–enemies rather than defenders of the existing order (despite their place at its top).  None will admit that they are responsible to God for the social order they deny or despise.

To our radical socialist rulers:  don’t think that we want to take away your power–we won’t let you off the hook that easily!  You messed up the social order; now you shall clean it up.  In our ideal counter-revolution, you will keep your power, but admit to your subjects that you hold it by the grace of God, and you shall let us put a crown on your head and let your subjects think of you as a father.  Hold any mental reservations you want–government is symbolism; what you appear to be is what you are. With your legitimacy tied to our symbols, you won’t hold those reservations for long.  If you do, your son won’t.

Liberals sometimes mock conservatives for holding yesterday’s liberals as their heros, as if we could not produce our own!  On, the contrary, making new heroes from scratch to displace an old set of heroes is easy.  Remember that the most impressive mark of God’s power is that He can bring good out of evil.  We wish to be entirely creative, like our Maker.  Nothing shall be destroyed outright.  The devil also shows his greatest power when he corrupts good, rather than crushing it outright, and we are not too proud to learn even from the Adversary.  Can’t you appreciate the acheivement of what we’ve accomplished regarding the American Revolution?  To turn, in the popular mind, the Freemason traitors who carried  out this rebellion into “founding fathers”!  The devil himself would be proud; it took two centuries of sloppy thinking, equivocation, and forgetfulness to neuter that bunch, to empty them out and refill them with something more like our substance.  I see that some daring mainstream conservatives have already gotten to work turning the communist agitator Martin Luther King into a patriotic Christian.  I will have no part in this work myself–I detest all lies, even noble ones.  I have to admire, though, the way a community can digest its enemies.

15 Responses

  1. Wikipedia says: The term reactionary refers to viewpoints that seek to return to a previous state in a society. That definition leaves a lot of room. All that is agreed upon is that the present state of society is bad. Which of the many previous states of society is to be preferred is not defined. I am rather fond of early American society as described by de Tocqueville. I think America only went bad towards the end of the 1800s.

    I am not fond of strong government at any level larger than a county. It doesn’t much matter to me whether that (high level) government is elected or not. Big government is just an evil that must be tolerated, like bad weather. What I like about the American Revolution isn’t so much the democratic government as the idea of limited federal government, but this has clearly been lost. At this point, I favor neither revolution nor acceptance of authority beyond what is necessary. I agree with Christ about big government authority. Christ never praised the Roman Emperors, nor did he ever expect them to do any good. He just gave them what he owed them and no more. “Give back to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s …”

  2. I fail to see how Communism contradicts Christianity. I can think of several orders of celibate monks who practice Communism quite well. Further, historical examples such as Wat Tyler suggest that Christian Communism is perfectly valid – and indeed, much older than atheistic Communism.

    Now, if you say that Christianity contradicts Marxism, then I agree with you. But Marxist Communism is merely a pale shadow of Christian Communism.

    Note that the absence of offspring in celibate monasteries makes Communism easier.

  3. Hello occultrick,

    Thanks for asking. I haven’t had a chance to attack communism lately, and now I have an excuse.

    Monastic “communism” is not a scheme to reorder the world, but to stand apart from it as an eschatalogical sign. Communism and socialism in any form are utterly incompatible with Christianity because they usurp the role of families in taking care of their own. The State undermines and then replaces the father, in contradiction to God’s intention revealed by nature and revelation. Communism is evil because it treats envy as a virtue instead of a vice. Worst of all, the State can only ensure communist equality by smashing all organization outside itself. Thus communism always has and always will lead to the savage persecution of the church. For these and many other compelling reasons, his holiness Pope Pius XI has declared it impossible to be a Catholic and a socialist.

  4. This is good, clever, inventive and culturally adept polemic.

    It shows what is best, and most idiosyncratic, about this site: intelligence, creativity, passion, cultivation, learning and a finely poised bitterness at the agony felt by the world.

  5. I think there is a real danger in turning radicals into conservatives in the popular mind. Consider modern Russia where Stalin’s image is being revamped as a national hero who industrialized and saved his country from annihilation. Stalin has become a nationalist figure and even compared to the previous Tsars. I think at least the blood of Stalin’s victims (some of my own relatives included) cry out that the rehabilitation of Stalin’s name not occur.

    What I find incredibly irritating as an American are conservatives who waste their time pouring over the Founders and US Constitution as though it were a sacred text. Such energies are completely wasted. Even still the fundamental liberalism of the Founders seeps through even down to modern conservatives. It is made all the more worse by their smug self-assurance of the Lockean worldview. They are the root cause of our current cultural malaise.

    As Americans we are like Soviet citizens ours is an order founded on the Enlightenment there can be no real American “conservatism.”

  6. Hello homesteadtheatreofwords,

    Thank you. I’m glad somebody likes my bitterness.

  7. Hello Gneisenau,

    I agree with you, and have said myself that conservatives who go looking for guidance in the founding fathers are wasting their time. It comforts me a little to think that all the Founderolatry is for public consumption–in effect if not in intent. It reassures the ignorant masses that being a conservative doesn’t automatically make one a bad American, and behind that cover a traditionalist minority can do the real thinking.

    I can’t stomach the Stalin thing myself. It’s like how I fly into a rage when I see public veneration of Voltaire, Garibaldi, Castro, or Che. At times like that I have to step back and look at things like a sociologist; what we’re seing is the social body repairing itself. That statue of Voltaire is a scab on the body’s skin–it’s ugly but necessary to prevent further blood loss until healing is complete.

  8. Since Stalin was mentioned, I don’t think that he was nearly that bad as Lenin. Stalin, off course was indeed brutal, but situation is not so simple since his brutality reflects brutality of messianic political ideology that he served. Most brutal repressions, including murder of imperial family were done by orders of Lenin. Lets not forget chemical warfare against Tambov peasant revolt, and brutal crushing of Kronstadt uprising. Secret police Cheka (later NKVD) and Gulags were all created with blessings of Lenin. Stalin simply inherited murderous apparatus and measures created by Lenin. I believe that deep inside, on sub-conscious level, Stalin remained Orthodox Christian (he was theology student) and traditionalist. Unlike arrogant, alienated, nihilistic and revolutionary petty-bourgeousie that started revolution, Stalin was a man from people and these people were hardcore traditionalists. Stalin’s mother was devout Orthodox Christian, and remained quite open about that during communist era.

    For many people Stalin is the face of communism, and communist crimes. This may sound insane, but Stalin actually deconstructed communism in Russia from within. His cultural and social policy was reactionary and patriarchal, opposite from Lenin’s intentions. Lenin was against family, he was engaged in cultural deconstruction of Russian state and supported sexual revolution. All things that we see today in increasingly leftist west.

    His cultural-reactionary policies supported classical European and Russian culture, which included classical music, painting, ballet, opera etc. All these things Lenin wanted to abolish.Culture is important part of spiritual life of nation. Morality was strict, and vices were condemned, not celebrated. Soviet movies from Stalin’s era greatly celebrated national traditions of Russians, traditional ethics and history.

    German attack also changed Stalin’s policy toward religion, and highly repressive measures made by Lenin and early Stalin regime were lifted. Christianity was again brutalized by anti-Stalinist Krushchev. After German attack, Stalin have resurrected traditions of Russian army. Stalin waged nationalist policy, and was against internationalism of Trotsky. Stalin wasn’t “leftie” that’s for sure.

    Let’s also not forget that greatest number of Stalin’s victims were other Bolsheviks. As such he created lots of enemies, like Trotskysts and other radical left, western liberals and fascist states. Since he was hated by both radical left and right, it’s no wonder that is he and not Lenin the “poster boy” of communist crimes. I was strongly anti-Stalin before, but after some reflections I’m not so. Image of Stalin that we have is greatly created by his enemies and liberal media.

  9. Just to add, in order to avoid possible misinterpretation of my attitude toward Stalin…
    Stalin certainly considered himself as communist on conscious level. He was indeed brutal, committed many crimes, persecutions and certainly he was not example of real traditionalist. He really don’t deserve to be considered as some kind of “hero”.

    However, Bonald wrote: “Remember that the most impressive mark of God’s power is that He can bring good out of evil. “, and I was inspired by that quote to offer another view on Stalin as justification of that quote.

    Main and real object of Stalin’s rage were other members of Communist party and old Bolsheviks. He basically exterminated almost all old Bolshevik leadership involved in creation of communist state and destruction of old order. As such, besides his crimes, there is some higher (and unintentional) justice in his acts. Perhaps I’m wrong in my speculations, but who knows really?

    This is something very interesting for contemplation.

  10. The far Left often seems to split into an organizational and an anarchist branch. The anarchists are the more insane and bloodthirsty. They crush reactionaries and other enemies without mercy, but they want to have a country left over in the end to lord over. Anarchists just want to see the world burn. Bakunin vs Marx. Trotsky vs Stalin. The New Left vs the Labour Left. Che Guevarra (who got bored with the dictatorship he helped make, and so went abroad to start murdering anew) vs Castro (who stayed to run Cuba). And so on. Stalin was definitely not as bad as Trotsky would have been, but he was plenty evil. Plus the sane ones are arguably more dangerous, because they don’t destroy their host countries.

  11. “With your legitimacy tied to our symbols, you won’t hold those reservations for long. If you do, your son won’t.”

    Surely you mean daughter? The heir apparent would be Crown Princess Malia, who would reign as Queen Regnant.

  12. I’ve been thinking some more about this. I actually don’t think that it would take that much – legally, not culturally, of course – to turn the US into an ancien regime-style reactionary state.

    1. Dispense with popular elections to the electoral college. The constitution only requires that each state “appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors”. These could be anyone from the patriarchs of the state’s oldest families to the local diocesan bishops. State law could fix in advance who is to be appointed every 4 years.

    2. Do the same thing vis-a-vis the Senate. This would require the repeal of the 17th amendment.

    3. Restrict the franchise for the House and the state legislatures to what it was in 1787 (or possibly what Louis XVIII imposed in 1814).

    4. As discussed among the founders, give the president the title “His Elective Majesty”, like the kings of Poland. “Doge” also has a nice sound to it.

    5. Provide that House elections – and meetings – happen only when ordered by His Elective Majesty.

    6. Remove the term limit on His Elective Majesty.

    7. Replace the Bill of Rights with something modelled on Franco’s “Fuero de los Espanoles”.

    8. Provide that the Supreme Court decides how to fill its own vacancies.

    That’s only 8 steps so far, though I’ve left out a Concordat. A good start, I think.

  13. Thinking about it some more, I guess the above still leaves the legislative initiative with the congress. The legislative process could be inverted, so that His Elective Majesty issues laws that can only be stopped by a 2/3 majority in both houses of congress.

    I’m assuming that elections and legislatures are unobjectionable in principle from a reactionary point of view, provided that they are structured along organic rather than democratic lines. After all, parliaments were common in mediaeval Christendom, absolutism being a later innovation. Nor is republicanism necessarily objectionable, as Venice and Genoa illustrate. Even the Holy Roman Emperor had to submit to election by the prelates and magnates of the Empire.

  14. What a splendid reactionary you would have made, Reggie!

  15. A European knows how to do these things properly, Bonald!

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